Posted Dec 15, 2020
By Lydia Smeltz
As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced work, school and social life online, the web has taken on heightened importance. However, many of the online platforms we now depend on to work, take online classes, buy groceries and communicate with loved ones are difficult or impossible to use for millions of Americans who have disabilities.
And even as these Americans a quarter of the U.S. population struggle to engage in online life, Congress is considering a bill that would make web accessibility, the ability to fully utilize and engage with all aspect of a website, worse.
This Bill Would Make It Harder for People With Disabilities to Access the Internet | Opinion full article
Published December 11, 2020
The developer of Cyberpunk 2077 is adding warnings to the game, after reviewers and charities complained it caused epileptic seizures.
It thanked one reviewer who said it had triggered “one major seizure” and left them “close” to another several times.
“Regarding a more permanent solution, [the] dev team is currently exploring that and will be implementing it as soon as possible,” it tweeted.
The game is released on Thursday, after months of repeated delays.
What is the problem?
Video games have long been a potential trigger for those who have epileptic seizures and standard warnings have been written in to licence agreements over the years.
Cyberpunk Adds Epilepsy Warning After Reviewer Warns of Seizures full article
OTTAWA, ON (December 2, 2020)
The Government of Canada is fighting a small registered charity and not-for-profit organization in court and refusing to ensure that its websites are accessible to blind, deafblind and partially sighted Canadians.
In 2019, the Alliance for the Equality of Blind Canadians (“AEBC”) brought a human rights complaint against the Government of Canada because its websites are inaccessible to blind, deafblind and partially sighted Canadians. In particular, the complaint alleged that blind, deafblind and partially sighted Canadians were discriminated against in the context of a funding application process created by Employment and Social Development Canada (“ESDC”) specifically for organizations for people with disabilities.
Government of Canada Fighting the Alliance for the Equality of Blind Canadians in Court full article
Marking the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Mohawk College researchers and Inclusive Media and Design are announcing the availability a new captioning tool for accessible media production.
This year, the United Nations is recognizing this day by challenging the global community to immediately respond to the challenges of the global COVID-19 crisis through the open, inclusive and innovative use of digital solutions, tools and resources.
The new software, CapScribe 2, can help educational institutions rise to the United Nations challenge. The newly developed tool will make it easier to add closed captions to videos, removing a key barrier to online accessibility for the millions of Canadians who need to read instead of listen to content online.
Mohawk College and Inclusive Media and Design Launch Captioning Tool full article
Posted October 12, 2020
A Monash University study has found that graphical information relating to the COVID-19 pandemic regularly presented in mainstream media is inaccessible to blind and low vision people (BLV).
Researchers from Monash University’s Faculty of Information Technology (IT) found nearly half of BLV people surveyed wanted improved access to information about daily COVID-safe living practices.
The dissemination of information has been a critical component of the world’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With much of this information presented as visual graphics, a team of researchers from the Faculty of IT examined the nature and accessibility of the information being shared through various media outlets.
COVID-19 Information Accessibility Lacking for Blind and Low Vision Australians full article
The company was criticized for rolling out the test feature without support for people with disabilities. Abrar Al-Heeti
Sept. 30, 2020
Twitter said it’s working on adding transcriptions to voice tweets in order to make the feature, which it began testing in the summer, more accessible. This comes after many criticized the social media platform for not taking all users’ needs into consideration before the release.
“We’re rolling out voice Tweets to more of you on iOS so we can keep learning about how people use audio,” the company said in a tweet on Tuesday. “Since introducing the feature in June, we’ve taken your feedback seriously and are working to have transcription available to make voice Tweets more accessible.”
Twitter Will Add Transcriptions for Voice Tweets to Promote Accessibility full article
Adam Akinyemi, Whois Accessible
September 26, 2020
The coronavirus outbreak caused a shift in the usage of digital devices.
As people worldwide become heavily dependent on the internet for essential information, work, school, entertainment, and basic needs such as medication and groceries, it’s clearer than ever that digital inclusion is crucial. Yet people with disabilities have struggled to stay informed, shop, and access critical services online due to text with low contrast and the confusion of filling out lengthy forms without labels – as well as a number of other barriers that make the web impossible for some people to use.
Websites Still Don’t Provide Equal Access in 2020 – and Lawsuits are Increasing full article
by Jefferson Graham, Usa Today
Zoom, which has become one of the most popular video meeting services, added new features Wednesday aimed at improving accessibility for those who are differently abled.
A highlight for the hearing impaired is the ability to drag and drop the video windows around in Zoom’s Gallery View, and to “pin” the ones you want to be spotlighted.
Before the update, the participants’ and hosts’ videos were fixed
Before the update, the Zoom chat windows were fixed, and you couldn’t change the layout. Instead, every time a different speaker spoke, they would get prominent position, and the windows would shift automatically.
Zoom Adds Accessibility Features for Video Meetings full article
Petition calls on government to require braille or tactile symbols on consumer product warning labels Logan Turner · CBC News · Posted: Aug 31, 2020
Samantha Atchison of Kenora, Ont. remembers the day her daughter Jo-Hannah was diagnosed with optic nerve hypoplasia at four months old.
“I had a little bit of a break down from it. You grieve a dream, but you can only grieve for so long before you wake up and you figure out how life is going to move forward.”
Atchison says her daughter’s diagnosis made her realize just how inaccessible the world is for her daughter, “from infant toys to things such as hazardous materials.”
Girl From Kenora, Ontario Inspires House of Commons Petition to Promote Accessibility for Visually Impaired full article
News provided by eSSENTIAL Accessibility
Aug 11, 2020, 10:00
TORONTO, Aug. 11, 2020 /PRNewswire/ – Today, eSSENTIAL Accessibility, the pioneering Accessibility-as-a-Service provider that empowers organizations to offer fully accessible and compliant digital experiences, announced a strategic partnership with PixelMEDIA, a digital commerce agency dedicated to helping lifestyle brands launch, manage, and grow their ecommerce business on Salesforce.
This partnership will allow Pixel to add eSSENTIAL Accessibility’s comprehensive accessibility solution to their suite of digital services, enabling leading lifestyle brands to enhance ecommerce experiences while providing full accessibility to customers of all abilities.
eSSENTIAL Accessibility and PixelMEDIA Partner to Improve Web Accessibility for Digital Commerce full article
The feature, which YouTube says was underutilized, will be discontinued in September By Kim Lyons Jul 31, 2020
YouTube plans to discontinue its community captions feature, which allowed viewers to add subtitles to videos, because it was “rarely used and had problems with spam/abuse,” the company announced. It says it’s removing the captions and will “focus on other creator tools.”
The feature will be removed as of September 28th. “You can still use your own captions, automatic captions and third-party tools and services,” YouTube said in an update on its help page.
YouTube Is Ending Its Community Captions Feature and Deaf Creators Aren’t Happy about it full article
July 27, 2020 – Raleigh, NC – Today, disability organizations filed a lawsuit against the North Carolina State Board of Elections (“NCSBOE”) for excluding North Carolinians with disabilities from their Absentee Voting program.
The lawsuit charges the state agency with discrimination against voters who are unable to independently and privately mark a paper ballot due to vision disabilities. All North Carolinians deserve to vote safely and independently, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.
The lawsuit was filed the day after the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act by a coalition of groups including Disability Rights Advocates, Disability Rights North Carolina, the North Carolina Council of the Blind, the Governor Morehead School Alumni Association, Inc., and several North Carolina voters with disabilities, including Jo Taliaferro, Kenneth Durden, Kendall Gibbs, and Dr. Ricky Scott.
Disability Groups Demand Access to North Carolina’s Inaccessible Absentee Voting full article
July 6 2020
BIOENGINEERS have built a glove able to translate sign language to speech in real-time.
The cutting-edge glove features thin, stretchable sensors running to the fingertips. These sensors can detect motions and finger placement through electrically conducting yarns. Those sensors are then connected to a tiny circuit board ” approximately the size of a coin worn on users’ wrists.
When people move their hands and fingers to form ‘words’, the glove translates the individual letters, numbers, words and phrases into audible language.
Glove Translates Sign Language in Real-time full article
The now mandatory masks make lip reading, facial cues impossible Andrea Yu
Toronto Star, July 9, 2020
For the deaf and hard of hearing, COVID-19 adds extra challenges for communicating in public.
We’ve all been told to avoid touching our face to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. But for Thinaja Nadarajah, this public health advice is complicated. Nadarajah is deaf and American Sign Language is her first language.
“There’s a lot of touching of the face when signing,” she says. “We often communicate by touch, like tapping on the shoulder to get someone’s attention.”
Deaf Community Encounters New Challenges full article
July 01, 2020
TORONTO & ZURICH–(BUSINESS WIRE)–AbleDocs Inc. the leading PDF accessibility service provider, and axes4 GmbH, the preeminent developer of leading-edge PDF/UA compliant software today announce their merger to become the worldwide leader in PDF accessibility products and services.
The deal combines the joint brain trust of recognized global accessibility leaders under one roof with the goal of continuing to provide unparalleled document accessibility services and industry leading PDF/UA compliant software offerings.
With a long-standing record of joint collaboration, both companies’ founders and leadership teams couldn’t be more excited to leverage each other’s capabilities to offer their existing and new clients the best in PDF/UA products and services.
AbleDocs Inc. and axes4 GmbH Announce Merger to Become the Worldwide Leader in Document Accessibility Products and Services full article
Hong Kong Blind Union says 2,000 kept out of the loop over city’s infected tally, mask availability and other important updates
Five of the 10 Chinese-language media reviewed fell short in areas such as font size and screen display Victor Ting
Published: Apr, 2020
Visually impaired people in Hong Kong are struggling to get hold of crucial information about the coronavirus because half of the city’s major Chinese-language news organisations do not have accessible smartphone apps, a local disability group has said.
With more than 2.9 million people infected worldwide, including 1,037 locally, an investigation by Hong Kong Blind Union revealed Covid-19’s “disproportionate” impact on the 2,000 visually challenged residents the non-governmental organisation represents.
Hong Kong’s Visually Impaired Deprived of Covid-19 Information With Half of Chinese-Language News Apps Inaccessible, NGO Finds full article
Middle East, News
April 24 2020
ISRAEL: For the hearing impaired, this is no easy task, as it adds an extra layer of difficulty to their ability to communicate, often times with various service providers such as doctors and nurses. As face masks have become an inseparable part of the lives of millions of Israelis there are those who may have more trouble with the new law requiring to wear them.
“Masks of this type improve the accessibility and communication of handicapped people who use lip reading, as well as people with an intellectual disability,” said Yuval Wagner, CEO of the “Access Israel.”
Innovative Masks to Help Persons with Visual Impairment full article
Over the last few months, the CNIB Foundation has been asking the Ontario government to ensure Ontarians who are blind, partially sighted or Deafblind have equal access to renewing their health card online. As it stands, a person needs a valid Ontario driver’s licence, which is unacceptable because it prevents Ontarians with sight loss from using the same process.
At the end of March, we received a response from Lisa Thompson, Minister of Government and Consumer Services. In her letter, Minister Thompson states:
“Renewing the Ontario health card online has been a government pilot project, and currently, Ontarians need a driver’s licence to renew their health card online. But we realize this approach does not work for everyone.
Provincial government Responds to the CNIB Foundation About Accessibility Issues with Ontario Health Card Renewal Process full article
Updated: April 13, 2020
Back in February, when protesters fighting the Coastal GasLink pipeline project erected blockades on Via Rail routes across Canada, at least 42,000 passengers in the Montreal-Toronto-Ottawa triangle were stranded.
News outlets jumped on the shutdown and its related issues ” Indigenous land rights, environmental costs and government intervention. But, says morning show host Dave Brown, the coverage was missing something.
“Not one show talked about how it impacted the blind curling team coming back from the national championship in Ottawa. There’s a way that disability and accessibility played into that story that a lot of people were blind to,” he says.
Morning Show Now with Dave Brown Puts News in the Lens of Disability full article
‘As soon as live music was taken away from everyone, suddenly it was made accessible to everyone’ Luke Ottenhof · CBC Arts · Posted: Apr 14, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has been disastrous for the music industry, but in the absence of corporeal gatherings, musicians and fans have adapted to communing online. This trend has transcended class boundaries in an explicitly tiered industry: everyone from Coldplay to your old university roommate who plays free jazz improv is streaming their live performances online for people to watch from home. It’s a newly popular workaround for an industry traditionally reliant on physical proximity.
The Live-Streaming Boom Proves That Accessibility in Live Music Can – and Should – Be a Priority full article